How accountants within public practice can prepare for Partnership and progress their careers to reach the Partner or Partner Designate status

Preparing for Partnership

Do you have years of accountancy experience? Are you ready to take your career to leadership level?  

If so, the Partnership route could be for you. But how will you know when the time is right, and when you’re truly ready?  

Becoming a Partner or Partner Designate in an accountancy firm isn’t a decision to be taken lightly. While it may seem like a natural progression, a lot of accountants never make it to the top of the ladder. But for those that do want to reach the professional peak, it’s important to be strategic in your preparation for this prestigious role.  

So, where’s the best place to start? 

In today’s blog, we’ll outline the roadmap to Partnership and the things you should be doing to accelerate the journey.  

What actually is a Partner? 

As a Partner or Partner Designate, you’ll be responsible for steering the firm’s continued success, scoping out new business opportunities and ensuring the delivery of high-quality service.  

While Partners do delegate responsibilities and work collaboratively with their senior leadership team, the overall responsibility for the firm does ultimately fall with them.  

Therefore, Partners need to be able to step up to the mark and act as inspirational, motivational and ethical leaders. It’s a career choice that’s no easy feat, but the professional and personal rewards are great.  

Did you know, the skills shortage is something job-seeking accountants can actually benefit from?  Find out what the current state of the recruitment market within public practice means for you.  

What qualities should a Partner have? 

Simply put, a Partner is expected to epitomise professionalism.  

To be a Partner, you’ll already be a leader that inspires the team around you. You’ll be able to talk strategy and be at a point in your career where you can really see things from a high-level perspective. You’ll understand the finer details of practice and how the cogs fit together to ensure a slick business machine that’s capable of growth. 

Before you start looking for Partner or Partner Designate roles, you’ll need to have the following qualities… 

  • Fully qualified in ACA, ACCA and/or CTA  
  • 5+ years of practice experience 
  • Demonstratable track record of technical expertise in your field of accountancy  
  • Proven successful leadership  
  • Excellent communication and networking skills 
  • Strong commercial acumen 

If you can tick off all of the above, you may be a Partner in the making. If not, don’t worry. Acquiring these skills is doable if you’re committed enough! 

What’s the secret ingredient for a successful Partner? 

They say a worker is only as good as their tools. And in the context of public practice, a firm can only be as good as their leaders.  

Partner and Partner Designates are the superiors in practice. They’re the decision makers and the figure heads that are solely responsible for driving business development and ensuring that the firm is operating as it should be. They tend to have the final say over all the goings-on within their team. Successful leaders make successful firms. They empower junior staff to reach higher and provide their teams with a pathway to growth. 

The greatest skill a leader can possess is the ability to be decisive and adapt in the face of change. Being offered a role as Partner or Partner Designate doesn’t mean you can never make a mistake, but it does mean that you can never not make a decision.  

So, what does the typical roadmap to Partnership look like? Keep reading to find out.  

Develop Technical Expertise  

Having a strong, all-encompassing accounting skillset is of course one of the most important things a Partner can have. As the firm’s thought-leader and decision maker, you will provide the highest level of oversight to dictate the future of the business. Therefore, a Partner needs to know every intricacy of the way that accountancy firm operates.  

Of course, you’re only human. You’re never going to know everything about every single discipline within the world of accountancy. However, it’s important to have an excellent understanding of the variety of specialisms within your firm. A lapse in knowledge or the absence of oversight could cause big problems within your firm.  

Not sure what salary a Partner should expect to earn in 2024? Explore the latest rates to get a clear view of the salary economy within public practice. 

Extensive Experience 

You can’t become a Partner overnight. It takes years, sometimes decades, of hard work, development and further learning.  

Working across different areas within public practice is a great way of showcasing your commitment to broadening your skills and becoming an accomplished leader. Chasing development opportunities, such as asking your firm for more exposure to audit, advisory or compliance, is a great way to broaden your holistic understanding of the field.  

We appreciate that not every firm can offer mixed roles. However, if Partnership is a career goal of yours, it’s worth discussing progression opportunities with your manager to see if you can rotate through different departments, pick up extra work or craft your role into something that’s more dual aspect.  

You don’t know if you don’t ask! 

Develop Soft Skills 

While having the technical know-how does make you a good pair of hands to have on-side, it doesn’t necessarily make you a successful leader.  

As a Partner, you’ll be leading teams, managing projects and setting an example to the firm. Junior staff will look to you as a source of motivation. They’ll see you as someone that they aspire to be. Therefore, it’s crucial that you hone your leadership skills by working on your communication. 

Practice public speaking, attend workshops, and join communities to gain more exposure to clients, colleagues and other Partners representing other firms. This will enable you to learn from the best and improve your communication skills.  

Networking is also an effective way to bolster your interpersonal relationships. Attending industry events and joining professional associations will open new doors for partnerships and help you enhance your engagements with others. 

Is your LinkedIn profile holding you back? Optimise your online presence to secure the best Partner opportunities! 

Understand the Business Side of Things 

Partners are usually the firm’s decision makers. Therefore, it’s essential that Partners have a strong financial and commercial acumen.  

As a Partner, you’ll be involved in overseeing the firm’s financial statements, setting budgets and planning for future growth. Being the person who controls costs is a high-stake and high-risk position and requires careful planning and strategic organisation. If numbers slip through the cracks, or important documents aren’t properly submitted, the fault and legal liability will fall on Partners.  

Business development is also something that ultimately lands with Partners. You’ll play a role in scoping new opportunities, representing the firm on a networking level, and expanding service offerings to bring in new clients. Partners are expected to show initiative and demonstrate a strong awareness of the current market. Developing business plans and actioning them is one of the most important duties that a Partner has.  

After considering all of the above, do you believe that you’re an accountant made for Partnership?  

Here at Public Practice Recruitment Ltd, we work closely with accountants who are looking to progress to Partnership level. As the largest agency solely recruiting into public practice across the UK, our team provides the career counselling you need to outline the practical steps and help you prepare for Partnership. 

Do you feel like you’re ready to go right now? Get in touch with us today to find the best Partner opportunities and discuss the necessary steps to your career goals.  


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